Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jamie Dimon Still Likes Being Too Big To Fail, But His Org-Chart Shuffle Hints Otherwise

Jamie Dimon, famous lover of giant banks, doubled down on that love today, at least in word. But in deed he may be building an escape pod, just in case the whole too-big-to-fail thing doesn't work out.

Dimon's bank, the largest in America with nearly $2.3 trillion in assets, announced a reshuffling of its organizational chart today, which should interest almost no one alive. But the Wall Street Journal sees what Jamie did there: He took what was once six different business lines and lumped them into three.

Ozzie Zehner's 'Green Illusions' Ruffles Feathers

If his goal was to capture attention by tweaking the nose of clean-energy enthusiasts everywhere, Ozzie Zehner might well have succeeded. His new book, published last month and provocatively titled "Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism," takes on what Zehner considers the sacred cows of the green movement: solar power, wind power and electric vehicles, among others.

Of course, the book is much more than just this, and Zehner, a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley's Science, Technology & Society Center, describes himself as being neither for nor against any particular energy source. Indeed, his core objection appears to be with technology fixes in general, or the conviction that any bit of technological derring-do -- be it a high-efficiency photovoltaic cell or a low-emissions vehicle -- will be sufficient to nudge the planet from unpleasant trajectories like global warming.

Mitt Romney: Arab Spring Could've Been Avoided By Bush's 'Freedom Agenda'

In an interview with the right-wing Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom, Mitt Romney said that the Arab Spring might never have happened had Bush's "freedom agenda" not been prematurely halted by President Barack Obama.

"President [George W.] Bush urged [deposed Egyptian President] Hosni Mubarak to move toward a more democratic posture, but President Obama abandoned the freedom agenda and we are seeing today a whirlwind of tumult in the Middle East in part because these nations did not embrace the reforms that could have changed the course of their history, in a more peaceful manner," Romney said.

Behind Big Political Gifts, a Mysterious Donor

It is a small apartment in a scrubby section of Jamaica, Queens, where the average household income is $33,800 and many residents receive government assistance. 

 But from this unlikely address, nearly $900,000 has flowed to the campaign accounts of powerful political players across the country.

It is hard to say where the big sums are coming from.

Neighbors describe the man who lives inside — James Robert Williams, 64 — as a reclusive figure who walks with a cane and orders Chinese food for many of his meals.

Let's Just Say It: The Republicans AND the Media Are the Problem

Many mysteries plague us regarding the press coverage of the Obama era, but one strikes me as central to our political predicament. Why, after everyone else has given it up, do members of the mainstream media persist in helping to hide—and therefore empower—the radicalization of the Republican Party?

The GOP strategy was clear from the start. Republicans, circa 2009, were no longer interested in bipartisan solutions to America’s problems. As then–Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told National Journal, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Senator Jim DeMint famously promised healthcare reform could be used to “break” Obama from day one. And that was before the Tea Party even existed.

WikiLeaks: The Latin America Files

As The Nation went to press, WikiLeaks issued a statement announcing that Julian Assange has hired a renowned international human rights jurist, the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, to lead his defense against extradition to Sweden. Garzón, who spent more than a year in the late 1990s attempting to get Gen. Augusto Pinochet extradited from England to Spain for crimes against humanity, issued a statement calling the Swedish sexual misconduct allegations against Assange “arbitrary and baseless,” and declared: “There is clear political intentionality behind this affair, which explains his current situation.” Garzón recently met with Assange at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where he is awaiting a decision for asylum from the government of Rafael Correa.

Baird announces multimillion-dollar defence contract for flight simulation technologies

OTTAWA — Foreign Minister John Baird said Friday the federal government will spend as much as $40 million for flight simulation technologies for the Canadian military.

The investment, which for the first three years is worth $22.6 million, could rise to $39.5 million over five years. The money will go to the Ottawa professional services division of Canadian company CAE Inc., to provide the latest cutting-edge simulation technology to help Canada’s military undertake its missions both at home and abroad.

Analysts say newest energy war unlike earlier incarnations

CALGARY — As Alberta and British Columbia rumble in Canada’s newest energy war over the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, echoes of pitched jurisdictional battles of the past ring out.

But observers and former participants in past fights say this scrap is unlike anything seen before: environmental issues are taking centre stage, the playing field is international and Alberta occupies a vastly different role in Confederation.

“Really big stakes are in this battle,” said Andre Plourde, a Carleton University energy economist and former senior bureaucrat at National Resources Canada.

Enbridge gets OK to reverse pipeline flow east

Pipeline giant Enbridge Pipelines Inc. will be allowed to reverse the flow on a portion of its Line 9 pipeline between Sarnia and Hamilton to flow east, the National Energy Board has decided.

Enbridge applied last August to reverse approximately 194 kilometres of pipeline between the Sarnia Terminal (at Sarnia, Ont.) and the North Westover Pump Station (near Hamilton, Ont.) to flow in an eastward direction.

Enbridge shuts large Canada-US pipeline after spill

Canada’s Enbridge Inc., already under fire from U.S. regulators over a massive oil spill two years ago, said on Friday it had shut a key pipeline indefinitely after an oil leak in Wisconsin.

Line 14, a 318,000 barrel per day leg of the major Lakehead System that carries light crude oil from Canada to Chicago-area refineries, was shut after a spill that released an estimated 1,200 barrels of oil, Enbridge Energy Partners said in statement. The cause of the spill was undetermined.

Harper could force the Northern Gateway pipeline through, but should he?

In 1966, when Joey Smallwood, then the premier of Newfoundland, was trying to dam the massive Churchill River in Labrador, he got frustrated that Quebec wouldn't let him build power lines to southern markets.

Smallwood wanted to ask Lester Pearson, then the prime minister, to invoke Clause 10 of Section 92 of the British North America Act, which allows Ottawa to assert jurisdiction over interprovincial projects if parliament declares them to be "for the general advantage of Canada."

Ex-Tory adviser charged with fraud Latest in saga of Harper's former aide Carson

OTTAWA -- The dizzying fall, resurrection and steep descent anew of Bruce Carson -- from convicted felon to close adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- took another turn Friday with word he'd been charged with influence peddling by the RCMP.

The Mounties issued a brief news release Friday that offered few details, other than Carson is alleged to have accepted a commission for a third party in connection with a business matter relating to the government.

The RCMP investigation began in March 2011 amid the superheated atmosphere of pre-election Ottawa when the PMO contacted police with allegations Carson had illegally lobbied the federal government on behalf of a company that employed his girlfriend.

Lawyer wonders why Elections Canada isn't investigating Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro over 2008 election donations

Elections Canada doesn’t seem to be investigating an alleged kickback scheme organized by a cousin of Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro for donations made to the Conservative MP’s 2008 election campaign, a lawyer representing one of the donors says.

About 20 people who either worked for Deltro Electric or are relatives of someone who worked for Deltro at the time each donated $1,000 to Del Mastro’s campaign and Deltro paid them $1,050 in return, Allan Kaufman claims.

The federation strikes back By

Stephen Harper’s preeminence as the distant father, and often the bully-in-chief of Canadian politics, is finally being challenged by a group he ignores at his peril, Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders.

Let it be clear: one premiers’ meeting does not a Canadian Spring make, but the icy grip of the Harper regime is beginning to melt.

After all, it is one thing to intimidate, ignore, disempower or punish civil servants, NGOs, environmentalists, scientists, unfriendly businessmen and pesky journalists, quite another to ignore a level of elected government much closer to the people than any federal administration will ever be.

China goes corporate with bid for Canadian oil

Keith Spence has had a front-row seat to the coming of age of China Inc.

When the Toronto investment banker first arrived in Beijing in the late 1990s, Chinese company and government officials were insecure about their role in the world and were looking for inbound investment to fuel the country’s development.

Flaherty’s fiscal recklessness is hurting Canada’s economy

Wednesday in these pages, federal finance minister Jim Flaherty took the opportunity to offer some fatherly advice to provincial and territorial premiers gathering in Halifax for the Council of the Federation, dispensing his thoughts on the virtues of balance budgets and fiscal responsibility (“Our long term goal: Balance Canada’s budgets,” July 25.

While the Harper government seems happy to offer advice through the media, it failed to send a single representative to meet with the premiers in Halifax. It seems the Harper Conservatives believe unilateral edicts handed down from Ottawa are now the most constructive approach to Canadian federalism.

U.S. pipeline agency probes Enbridge oil spill in Wisconsin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. pipeline safety agency launched an investigation on Saturday into an oil spill in Wisconsin on Enbridge Inc's network that forced the partial shutdown of a main artery carrying light sweet Canadian crude to Chicago-area refineries.

Enbridge's 318,000 barrel per day Line 14 pipeline, part of the Lakehead system, was shut after an estimated 1,200 barrels of oil were leaked. This happened almost two years to the day after another major spill in a different section of the line, in Michigan.